Bird diverters erected to help swans and geese fly safer

A total of 4,360 bird diverters have been erected on 22km of live overhead lines in the East so far,

Members of the team that install bird diverters in the East for UK Power Networks from left to right: Steve Thurston, Lewis Wells and Adam Mason. - Credit: UK Power Networks

Thousands of swans and geese will now be safer when flying around Cambridgeshire after a ‘dedicated team’ have erected bird diverters across countryside power lines.

So far, UK Power Networks have put up a total of 4,360 diverters on 22km of live overhead lines in the East, with the majority of those being across Cambridgeshire.

As a result, the birds steer clear of the cables and fewer power cuts will occur from collisions, improving the resilience of the electricity network for local residents. 

The diverters are small spinning fluorescent discs which hang from the live 11,000-volt cables. 

Putting them up is a specialist job carried out by trained engineers using a long specially-insulated rod. 

The diverters are more visible to big birds with poor eyesight that need long take-off and landing paths and cannot suddenly turn away at the last moment. 

Birds like swans and geese might not see power lines when they venture to new locations or are new to an established landing site. 

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Heather Patrick, UK Power Networks environment advisor said: “Diverters benefit many birds including our resident mute swans and the smaller migratory swans which fly thousands of miles every year between the UK and their breeding grounds.

“Swans and geese are not very agile flyers and being able to spot the diverters from a distance helps them to navigate more safely.” 

The diverters are often erected after UK Power Networks are approached by a wildlife enthusiast or member of the public where there have been injured swans and geese and repeated power cuts, often in remote areas. 

The four-person team working in the East are based in King’s Lynn and travel with their all-terrain Unimog vehicle erecting diverters in all weathers whilst fixing any cables which need repairing. 

Steve Thurston, Lewis Wells, Adam Mason and Peter Beck ‘enjoy their outdoor work’, with Steve and Lewis having now worked together for 27 years. 

The team are currently working at Welney nature reserve and recently finished a job erecting 960 diverters along the overhead wires in Great Fen near Peterborough. 

This year, they’ll be carrying out work in Littleport, Manea, Chatteris and March. 

Steve said: “We are passionate about saving wildlife and we really enjoy being outside doing our work.”